Reads of 2017

One of my favorite rituals and rhythms each year is taking time to look back over the year and thinking about the books that landed in my lap.  Every year, especially as I have moved back into full time teaching, leaves me with guilty feelings.  I have regrets over books never finished, others returned to the library early to avoid late fees, or just acknowledging that I spent more time catching up on reality tv or binge watching shows on Netflix than I should have.

But….we have to start where we are.  And let the realities of our current circumstances be what they are.  And so, I choose instead to be grateful for the works of literary art that we took in this year. I also joined a Book Club this year with other women at my school.  It was such a great addition to the year, built friendships, allowed me to dig into some books I wouldn’t have otherwise. Hoping to keep up with this in 2018.

Without further adieu, here they are.  Former year’s posts are linked at the bottom along with some books I am looking forward to in 2018! (** denotes a favorite from 2017!)



  • {sidenote:  In Oregon we have a wonderful, statewide program called OBOB which stands for Oregon Battle of the Books.  Students form teams and together read 16 titles for their age group.  My students can participate and Alex has also been on a team every year too.  After reading the books, they prepare for “trivia” battle on the facts of the books and compete at school and then later, regionally and statewide.  I love the titles they include and am noting them below,}
  • Magic Tree House (always for Drew…but he especially liked the new Magic Tree House book that came out this summer, A Big Day for Baseball.  It chronicles Jackie Robinson and was fantastic.  We also re-read the San Francisco Earthquake book too, Earthquake in the Early Morning.  Fun to focus on the history and have a deeper discussion.
  • The Case of the Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers Series) by Mac Barnett (OBOB 2017-2018)
  • **Dash by Kirby Larson (OBOB 2017-2018).  Because of the study I do in my class each year on the time of Japanese Internment, I was beyond excited to see this book added to the OBOB list this year.  It chronicles a girl’s experience being sent to an internment camp and having to temporarily leave her dog behind.  Very touching story and well-written to be accessible for upper elementary aged kids.  I can’t wait to start it with one of my in-class book clubs this February.
  • **Masterpiece by Elise Broach.  (OBOB 2017-2018).  OH MY GOODNESS.  This was a favorite of mine this year.  Such a sweet story combined with some mystery elements too.  A must read for upper elementary kiddos!
  • Eddie Red Undercover:  Mystery on Museum MileEby Marcia Wells.  (OBOB 2017-2018) This mystery was a fun, light summer read with an artsy mystery.  Fun to read alongside Masterpiece.
  • Poppy by Avi.  (OBOB 2017-2018). Surprisingly I hadn’t read this until I saw it on this year’s OBOB list.  We used it as our 2nd read aloud in my class this year and the class was riveted.  It is part of a series and so if kids get hooked they tend to keep reading.
  • The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney.  (OBOB 2017-2018) This book tied in beautifully with my first literacy unit so I wrote a grant to get a set to use for Book Clubs in my class.  It is written in poetry form and follows the experience of a girl in Sudan who eventually finds herself in a refugee camp.  Strong girls and education is a theme combo that just grabs me.  A gorgeous read.
  • **Wild Wings by Gill Lewis (OBOB 2017-2018).  Oh my goodness!  This was the first book Alex and I tackled from the OBOB list this summer and from page 1, Gill Lewis pulls you in with the written word.  It’s a book that still sits with me and isn’t my typical favorite genre, but it grabbed be from the start.  Haunting story.
  • The Who Was, What Was and Where Was Series.  Any books from these series are wonderful for kids.  Of course Alex, my history buff, was THRILLED for the anticipated release of Who Was Alexander Hamilton.  He also devoured Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz this summer too and we can’t wait for a mom and son date to see Hamilton in Portland in March!
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.  Drew and I delved into this gem and it kept him up reading at night which isn’t usual for him.  Drew’s a great reader, but it hasn’t taken over his free time choice yet.  But this book managed to do it.  It is so good that I stole it a few nights to keep reading myself after putting him to bed.
  • Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman.  My colleague found this on the shelf at school in the copy room and it became a wonderful new book to enjoy and dig into during our immigration unit in class.  Gorgeous black and white photos and text to help students understand the immigrant experience at the end of the 1800s and into the 1900s.
  • Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein.  Currently reading this one with Alex at night for read aloud.  We love Grabenstein’s series about Mr. Lemoncello and have been looking forward to this follow up.  It has a similar feel to the Book Scavenger listed below.
  • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.  This book was a fun read and follow up to Bertman’s first book, The Unbreakable Code.  Our school librarian set up a scavenger hunt at school and the kids who found the book had a chance to go to the Public Library and do a live FaceTime event with the author, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.  Alex found the book and we went in July 2017.  It was such a fun experience!
  • Who Would Win? Series by Jerry Pallotta.  Drew’s current obsession is this series that pits two animals against each other in non-fiction style proving which animal would “win” against the other.  Little does he know he will have about 20 different books in the series by the time Christmas is over tomorrow.
  • Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski.  This was on the OBOB 2017-2017 list but Drew picked it up in December and it’s been a fun read for bedtime.  Fantasy and animal focused, so it’s Drew’s jam.



  • Daily 5 and CAFE reading books (especially after having the gift of attending the training conference for two days in June 2017).  Lots of strategies and ideas to help keep my literacy time relevant for students no matter their reading level.

Young Adult Fiction

  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • **Salt to the Sea  by Ruta Sepetys.  My dear school librarian, Christy, always brings me the best books and knows the themes and types of books she thinks Alex will like.  She recommended Salt to the Sea to me and I ordered it at the public library.  Barely got home from picking it up and Alex was into it, finishing it in one day.  I realized I’d better get going on it too.  It is written chapter by chapter following different characters and their experience during WWII.  From Ruth Sepetys’ website:  “In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
    A tribute to the people of Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.”



  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  A fictional read, but focused on some real life, former Hollywood-ites and set in Italy.  A fun summer read.
  • **Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  This was the first book I read for my book club and had had it on my list for a LONG time.  It was gorgeous story telling and writing and a perfect read while teaching my Japanese Internment unit at school.
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.  I didn’t care for this as much as Big, Little Lies, but it was still a fun read and true Moriarty style.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Another read for my book club and perfect companion while watching the series on TV.  Margaret Atwood is visionary and an incredible writing.  This genre isn’t usually my favorite but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.  {or was freaked out by the prophecies found within!}
  • **Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.  I had no idea what this book was about before cracking it open this summer and was pulled in from page one.  The story that unfolds is timely and a gripping story of the effects of race and the law.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Well….get your Kleenex ready when you sit down to read.  Fredrik Backman is an incredible story teller and Ove is a character you will fall in love with.  His quirks and character development were so touching and moving.
  • **The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  This book accompanied me to Maui this summer and was the perfect beach read.  I absolutely loved it and count it as one of my favorites from 2017.
  • **Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  I absolutely positively loved Eleanor’s character, life story and the arc of the plot.  Such a fun read and an eye into those on the spectrum as adults.
  • Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.  My friend Elena read this one due to her membership in the Book of the Month club (I am now a member for 2018…can’t wait for some new expected reads!).  I loved the heartwarming story about a broken engagement and Alzheimers.  Odd combo, but it works.
  • **Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  Just finished this in November for my book club.  As a WWII obsessed reader, this griped me.  The interweaving storylines were gorgeous and very real.
  • Sourdough by Robin Sloan.  Kind of a weird one, but fun that it was set in the Bay Area.  It includes food and the Ferry Building in SF so it still drew me in despite some disappointing parts.IMG_1094


  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
  • Over Easy:  Sweet and Savory Recipes by Joy the Baker.  So many yummy recipes in this gem.  I feel like my life doesn’t leave enough time for slow bunches and more fancy recipes, but I still found this book very approachable.
  • Nom Nom Paleo:  Food for Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong.  I went back and ordered this book and their newest, listed below, from the library and found many exciting new, paleo recipes.  Have been cooking up her instant pork carnitas all fall and winter.  Fantastic flavor.
  • Ready or Not? by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong


  • Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker.  I really enjoyed Jen’s storytelling style and particularly have appreciated her accompanying podcasts focused on more of these mess and moxie topics as well.
  • **Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.  I always love Brene Brown but this newest book is especially riveting.  The whole experience was made even BETTER when we got to drive up to Portland and have FRONT ROW SEATS to see Brene speak the week the book released.  Brene shares some revolutionary ideas in this book that are so applicable to our political and country climate these days.


  • The Road Back to You:  An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.  I enjoy Ian and Suzanne’s podcast more than the book, but Enneagram anything is a must for me!
  • Brain Rules by John Medina.  Great ideas that I have really used in my teaching. I am a geek and sucker for all things brain development and research.
  • The Church of Small Things by Melanie Shankle.  Melanie has such a humorous wonderful style and her books are always a fun read.
  • Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker
  • Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott


  • MAGAZINES!  Our boys’ psychiatrist (and our parenting mentor and savior!) saves up their People magazines and gifts them to me on every visit.  A guilty pleasure for sure, but a fun one!
  • The Magnolia Journal.  Once in awhile I am given a copy of Joanna Gaines’ newer magazine.  I haven’t subscribed yet as it’s pricy and I don’t see TONS of content.  But I really loved the summer issue and their Roadtrip inspiration article.  Hoping to squeeze in a short road trip this summer up to Washington and another at the end of the summer down to California—-influenced by this article and issue.
  • Bon Appetit, Sunset, Real Simple


  • ***************************At Home in the World:  Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
    by Tsh Oxenreider. Hands down, my favorite read of 2017.  I listen to Tsh’s podcast, The Simple Show, religiously, and have read her books over and over.  But this book, was something else.  And quite unexpected how much it touched me.  Tsh chronicles her family’s year long trip around the world.  But it is so much more than that.  Our early 20’s aged friend read it and love it too, as did my neighbor who has older high schoolers.  It’s just so thought provoking and will transport you to another world and challenge you to think about what it means to BELONG, no matter where you are.  I wish I could give this book to everyone in my life this year.  Thanks, Tsh.  Sidenote:  My friend Miranda humored me to trek up to Portland with me right before school started and we went to the PopCast Live event.  Tsh was a guest at the event and we snuck in front of the line to have her sign my book.  I was basically speechless meeting her and starstruck.  Highlight of the year, indeed!


  • **The Year of Living Danishly:  Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell.  I was on the wait list at the library for the longest time and ended up getting many fees for keeping it too long, but Helen Russell is a master story teller.  She crafted a book that chronicles the year she and her husband moved to Denmark for her husband to take a job with LEGO.  I adored this book!!
  • Mastering the Art of French Eating:  From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah.
  • **Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.  Trevor Noah is an incredible writer and this book, while not a light summer read, might be one of my top three of the summer.  I read it right after Small Great Things and wow…that was a one-two punch.  So much reality about the struggle of growing up biracial in South Africa.
  • Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner
  • She by Kate Spade New York.  My student teacher just gave this to me for Christmas and I was speechless opening it.  I am obsessed with women’s biographies and this one is stunning.  Photographs, quotes and reflections from famous women (even including Miss Piggy!).  All dressed up in Kate Spade book style.
  • Chasing Light:  Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer by Amanda Lucidon.  My friend, Sue, gave me this book last week and I read it and soaked in the photographs yesterday.  Oh, Michelle Obama, how we miss you!
  • **Obama:  An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza.  I stood pouring over this book with my dear friends, Martha and Jessica during a girl’s weekend in November.  We all were teary-eyed recalling the humanity, love, care and inspiration of our former president via the eyes of his photographer, Pete Souza.  This is a must have coffee table book,  in my humble opinion.
  • Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency (Young Readers) by Pete Souza.  When I saw that Pete Souza was putting out a young readers edition of his Obama book, I immediately ordered two. 

Looking forward to in 2018

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  Have tried this three times and need to just commit and finish it.  Such and deep and powerful story!
  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
  • Maybe a Louise Penny read.  I have had Louise Penny’s books recommended by many people in my life and think it’s time to take the plunge!
  • Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel.  Anne produces one of my favorite podcasts which I listened to for a week straight while weeding our back yard this summer.  Her new book combines personality and picking books.  EEP.
  • At Home in this Life by Jerusalem Greer
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  Still haven’t read this classic and must tackle it before the movie comes out.
  • Still Me by Jojo Moyes
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Brave by Rose McGowan
  • The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  • For my Husband for Sure…and maybe me too….The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  Crafted in free verse with hip hop poetry?!  Yes, please.  This book won many awards in 2015 and is on my list for the year ahead for sure.
  • The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green…can’t pass up the next novel from the author of the The Fault in Our Stars.  Young Adult Fiction at its best!
  • My friend Elena and I are going to be tackling the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge for 2018!  I am really excited to take on some texts that I wouldn’t have otherwise due to her list of challenges for the year!  Here’s the link if you want to join up as well!

Past Year Book Round Ups:






4 thoughts on “Reads of 2017

  1. I have my moments of binge watching shows too! So you’re not alone. 😉

    I love seeing what other people are reading and enjoyed reading through your list of books read this year. Definitely adding some new titles to my TBR list! Especially
    At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. It sounds amazing!

    My youngest daughter loves The Magic Treehouse series too. She is anxiously waiting to get The Magic Treehouse Survival Guide. What she doesn’t know is that she’s getting it for her birthday which is coming up soon. 😉 She also enjoys the Who Was, What Was, and Where Was Series too. I’m always looking for good books to read with her and for her to read on her own. So thanks for sharing about all the kids books!

    The Sun Is Also a Star is on my TBR list. I’ve heard it’s really good. I read Salt to the Sea this year and it was unputdownable! I literally stayed up way too late one night reading it! I also read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and thought it was really good! If you haven’t read it yet, you might be interested in reading Journey to Topaz: A Story Of The Japanese-American Evacuation by Yoshiko Uchida. Very good book.

    I read A Man Called Ove in 2016 and it brought me to tears too. Have you seen the movie? I thought it was very well done and you definitely need tissues when watching it as well. I’m planning to read another Fredrik Backman book this year.

    Lilac Girls has been on my TBR list for awhile. It sounds like a book I would really want to read. And I have Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown on hold at the library right now. Hopefully it won’t be much longer before it comes in! I’ve been anxiously waiting to read it! Oh and I also plan to read A Wrinkle in Time as well before the movie comes out this year.

    I’m also doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 challenge this year. This will be my third year participating. I love it!

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